Ubuntu is breaking out from the Linux community into wider mainstream use in Australia, with schools and government agencies leading the charge, according to the Sydney Linux Users Group (SLUG).
SLUG secretary, Melissa Draper, attributed the growing recognition of the Linux-based operating system to its relative ease of use and acceptance among business users.
“I’m noticing Ubuntu gradually gaining acceptance as a desktop environment with more and more enterprise-sized companies, government departments and non-profit agencies adopting it as an acknowledge part of their networks,” she said.
“I am aware of several such institutions which are gradually allowing staff to choose Linux as an option for their work environment if they feel comfortable administering it themselves, and it’s the staff themselves choosing Ubuntu.
“… The majority of computer users just need to be able to type up a report, send an email, read blogs, and watch funny cat videos on YouTube.”
Draper also attributed the increasing use of Ubuntu in more educational institutions, government agencies and businesses to its affordability.
“Independent schools and IT-based government departments are leading the way with Ubuntu uptake, though small businesses are turning to it to avoid unnecessary costs,” she said.
“ … From students who are making the use of the cost savings, to their relatives and friends who just want to avoid ‘fun’ times with the various malicious Windows-targetting gotchas that the internet is rampant with, right the way up to CTOs of corporations eager to make the most of their budgets and keep their CFOs happy.”
Her comments follow the release of Ubuntu 10.10 ‘Maverick Meerkat’, which has been upgraded and improved upon to make the operating system more consumer-friendly and easier to use.
Some of the main changes to Ubuntu 10.10 include the overhaul of the Netbook Edition’s interface, dubbed the ‘Unity interface’; easy streaming and synchronisation of music and contacts from the Ubuntu One cloud to Windows PCs, Android mobile phones and iPhones; and a better organised Software Centre.
Further, for the past number of Ubuntu releases, developers had put in a lot of effort to rectify “papercuts”, which are easily fixable usability bugs found in the default installation of Ubuntu, Draper said.
Draper added that Ubuntu and other Linux-based software were becoming more widely accepted thanks to the hard work of developers, rather than open source and 'free software' advocates such as Richard Stallman.
“People still align the idea of obsessive geek with the notions of open source, free software and Linux. Stallman is a true example of this; someone who is in a state of bloody-minded principled obsessiveness," she said.
"He is the stereotype that is scaring the diverse potential user-base away. He is an extremely poor representative of the general Free/Libre/Open Source/Software (FLOSS) movement.”
She said although Stallman’s advocacy had done much for the open source community, some open source and free software pioneers, such as Stallman, had lost touch with the state of the industry and how it worked today.
“He’s not really saying anything new and I don’t believe that his actions today matter much beyond the sentimental value of the foundations his visions unarguably laid down 25 years ago,” Draper said.